Louise Bixler has been in the public service sector for most of her life. She was working as a GED teacher when she retired, but still wanted to be involved within the Lebanon community, so she started volunteering for Lebanon County Christian Ministries. That was 17 years ago.
Louise first learned about LCCM when she was teaching GED classes due to having a diverse group of students, some of whom were utilizing services from the organization. Once she retired, Louise decided to pursue volunteering with LCCM, and the rest is history.
She has seen LCCM go through many different changes, from moving locations to establishing new programs, such as the Summer Food Service Program and the FRESH Start Emergency Shelter and Resource Center. Yet through all the changes, her job has stayed the same. Louise is an interviewer.
This means that when someone requests help, she takes the time to sit down with them and decipher what they need, explain how the organization can support them and suggests other agencies in the area if there is a better fit for their situation. After that, Louise ensures the correct forms are filled out and explains how the different programs work. She also researches the best options for commodities, such as fuel for clients’ homes.
Each day Louise volunteers is a different experience. She never knows what to expect when she walks in the LCCM door. She admits that she is still learning the job 17 years later, but she takes on the challenge because she knows that it is a worthwhile effort.
Louise says that she cannot say enough good things about the staff and other volunteers at LCCM. She especially appreciates how accommodating the staff is and the comfortable environment they create. This organization has fostered friendships and a way for her to give back to the community.
“No one has good days all the time," Louise said.
Volunteering with the organization has provided humbling experiences for her. What really inspires her is when she sees a client moving forward and upwards with their life after being a client of LCCM. Sometimes she will even get recognized in public by a former client, years after LCCM has assisted them. Yet, they still recognize Louise from their initial meeting with her.
Louise is grateful for the opportunity to help clients at LCCM and the meaning it brings to her life.
Written by Mary Beard, Lebanon Valley College
Lebanon County Christian Ministries is working in conjunction with Lebanon Valley College students to tell the story of LCCM through the lens of its volunteers, guests, staff and board throughout the season of Lent.